Letter: Islanders need to keep up the good work of noting dangers of glyphosates

We all need to be prepared to change our Roundup ways

To the Expositor:

Manitoulin’s print media (The Expositor and Recorder) has done a wonderful job in the past of reporting on our efforts to highlight the questionable use of controversial pesticides by corporate utility giants like Hydro One, and government ministries like Ontario’s Ministries of Transport and Natural Resources.

The pesticides in question, glyphosates, found in products like Garlon and Roundup, have been proven to be cancer-causing, and the manufacturer, Bayer-Monsanto, has been losing court cases in the US so fast it is now contemplating making a multi-billion dollar offer to all its litigants so it can get on with the rest of its business, as read in a June article in the New York times.

Zak Nicholls and I got hundreds of signatures on a petition a couple of years ago. Petra Wall got a similar number so Manitoulin residents and other Ontarians agree there are concerns. Mike Mantha carried the petitions to Queen’s Park and sent them to the then Minister of the Environment, but since then there have been three changes of minister (maybe four, I’m losing count). Several Manitoulin municipalities were formally supportive of our efforts but couldn’t pass bylaws on this because the Ontario government took away their authority to do that back in 2009.

So, what are we looking for now? First, we would like the Government of Ontario (and ideally the Government of Canada) to ban use of glyphosate in all its forms. That would address our immediate concern which is the use of this poisonous product for “vegetation management” alongside roads by the utility companies and the contractors they use. Some of them are frankly careless in the way they use the product and several Islanders have reported to us incidents they have observed where the spraying is taking place. We also have specialized contractors on the Island. We understand that they are conscientious and use great care, but they are using glyphosate products (Roundup) and should prepare to change. Second, we want authority to manage these kinds of threats to be passed back to the municipalities, who are answerable to their populations. As climate change continues, it will have different impacts in local zones and it is vital that local authorities have all the tools they need to manage problems that could occur.

And the mosquito and the elephant? We have had experiences of both government (specifically environment) and corporate entities (Hydro One) increasingly ignoring us even though what we are asking for is reasonable and it looks increasingly like glyphosates will be banned here sooner or later. Hydro One has been implying recently that they are now a private sector entity and not subject to access to information requirements. Well, these mosquitoes will not be brushed off and will find ways to penetrate the hides.

Paul Darlaston